As many of us who are preparing for an uncertain future have discovered, trying to prepare to become self-sufficient for an infinite number of scenarios is overwhelming as best. More often it becomes a sort of anxiety provoking undertaking with no end in sight.
It is easy to become so overwhelmed that you just run around buying things you know you will need at some point in the future. A box of bullets here, some canned veggies there, and so it goes.
After all, these are things you know you will need and will be able to put to use at some point, why not buy and store? The problem with this is that is leads to prepping without method and it does not systematically satisfy basic levels of needs. You need a method to keep your efforts focused and deliberate.
The tool I constantly use to help overcome this problem is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As most of you probably know Abraham Maslow (one of the founders of modern psychology) developed a pyramid of human needs with five separate levels. Each level contains different requirements that must be met before moving on to the next level.
Furthermore, each level is supported by the level below it and a person cannot move on to the next level until the previous level has been satisfied. The bottom level of the pyramid contains things like food, water, and sleep.
The top of the pyramid is a level called self-actualization which is the pinnacle of human existence. Many people strive to reach this level but very few ever do. (Think Mother Teresa and Gandhi) It is very simple to apply this same principle to building a survival pyramid with the pinnacle being truly prepared.
I personally like the pyramid analogy, but you can replace it with whatever you like. The basic concept is you are building a survival structure. This structure is all based on a strong foundation and supporting levels. Just like Maslow’s pyramid, each level rests on the previous level and if you try and skip levels or build on a weak foundation, the structure will collapse.
With this information in mind, there are a couple of caveats before we begin. First, the fundamentals of the pyramid are universal, but each person’s pyramid will be different based on their circumstances.
For instance, while my first level living in the Northwest would be food, water, shelter, and heat – someone who is insulin dependent and living in Florida would have a first level of food, water, shelter, and insulin.
Secondly, any item placed in a level will also by extension have things that allow us to use items on the list. So if insulin is on my level one, I must also have a way to refrigerate and use insulin on my level one list. If my food storage consists primarily of grains, a grinder must also be on level one. If my water supply is a year round stream, a filtration system must also be on level one. You get the idea.
So without further ado, here is MY pyramid based on my age, location, family size, financial status, etc… Again, this is extremely abbreviated and only some examples of items in each level, not a comprehensive list.
Level 1: Life Requirements
Water- My water will come from my well with a back up hand pump
Food- 1 year supply of long term storables like wheat, salt, sugar/honey, powdered milk, hand grinder, spare grinder parts, etc…
Shelter- My house
Heat- Wood stove to heat and cook with plus 5 cords wood storage, matches, splitting maul, ax
Level 2: Long Term Survival Tools and Protection
These are things that will be essential to any long term survival plan. This is not even close to a complete list, just examples. Things like toiletries, non-hybrid seeds, garden tools, seasonal clothing, canned fruits & veggies, guns, ammo, medical supplies, etc….
· A Side note – It was extremely difficult to place guns and ammo on level two instead of level one. I’m one of those guys who doesn’t go to the grocery store without my gun. My thinking is that in the purest sense of the word survival, a gun is not necessary. You have to have food and water to exist, but you can survive without a gun. The best part is you don’t have to debate this because it’s my list, you can just make your own.
Level 3: Quality of Life
These are things that would be very nice to have and would upgrade your status from merely surviving to living borderline comfortable. These are things like books for your survival library, chicken coop w/hens, goat for milk, taking an EMT course, vitamins to supplement your diet, antibiotics, etc….
Level 4: Barter/Trades
These are items/skills that will allow you to get the most out of a survival situation. Some things on this list will increase your value as a person in a true TEOTWAWKI situation. This will also allow you to live much more comfortably in this scenario. These are things like welding, mechanical, medical skills that you can use to improve your personal situation as well as trade for other items. Other things might be a beehive for honey production or solar panels to recharge batteries or power electronics. These are skills/things that everyone should be striving to acquire after meeting basic needs.
Level 5: Add to existing stores and luxury items
These are things that are not at all essential but would make life better. Things in here would be candy for children (and yourself), board games, DVDs, music, etc. You would also increase previous set levels of need. More bullets, food for barter, etc….
Your lists should be as detailed and specific as possible. How much wheat? What Kind? Extra parts for a grain mill? What kinds of guns? Calibers? How much ammo? It could go on forever. Furthermore you could have some guns on level two and others on level four.
Your list will also change and will cycle as you become more prepared. The point is to stay focused and purchase starting with absolute necessities and work up.
I don’t care how great a deal you find on another case of ammo, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have your water needs met. Ideally this should take the emotion out of things and make you stick to a budget of sorts. Not as much fun, but far more effective.
As it has been repeated ad nauseam in most survival blogs, everyone’s survival list will be different. We all have basic needs we share, but we also have uniquely different life circumstance that prohibits making a one size fits all list. It’s your list; you get to determine what the priorities are for you and yours.
We all know what we need to survive. In fact, we can even picture most items we need and compile a detailed list. However, the fact remains we need to start viewing prepping as a structure. We have to start with a solid foundation and build up.
We all know what a house looks like, but we wouldn’t start building without plans. We know it would be a futile effort. You would have no idea what the exact measurements were and it would be pointless to try building walls before the foundation was set. The clock is ticking so draw your plans and start building from the bottom.